FB Financial executives said Tuesday they expect to focus more on cost control and the strong mortgage market in the coming months with the expectation that loan demand will pick up in the second half of 2021.
Downtown-based FB Financial, the parent of FirstBank, posted a fourth-quarter adjusted profit of $54.5 million, more than double its number from the same period a year earlier, before the company acquired Franklin Financial Network. Fee income was a big driver, climbing to $80.6 million from $35.2 million in late 2019, while net interest income rose to $85.2 million from $57.7 million a year earlier. The company finished 2020 with total assets of $11.2 billion.
“We also added significant value for our shareholders by increasing our tangible book value by $3.09 per share during the year,” President and CEO Chris Holmes said in a statement. “This 16.7 percent increase comes in addition to providing $108.0 million for loan losses and unfunded commitments during the year, which gives us an allowance for credit losses to loans held for investment of 2.41 percent.”
Holmes and his team were able to lower their company’s core bank efficiency ratio to about 56 percent in the fourth quarter from the low 60s earlier in the year and said Tuesday they will continue to focus on holding the lines on expenses as broader loan demand remains “challenging.” (That echoes what DeVan Ard Jr., Holmes’ peer at Reliant Bancorp, said last week.) The loan pipeline, execs said, looks good but overall 2021 growth is expected to be in the high single digits, with the majority of it coming later in the year.
Similarly, Holmes voiced a sentiment similar to that of Pinnacle Financial Partners boss Terry Turner last week when asked about FB getting back into the M&A market. Holmes told analysts and investors Tuesday morning that the FB team was able late last year to extract the cost savings it had forecast from its acquisition of Franklin Financial but added that his team is focused more on internal opportunities than on stepping out there soon as a big buyer again.
“We’re watching the environment but it’s not something we feel compelled to jump into,” he said. “It’s an option but it’s one we’ll be pretty restrained on.”
Shares of FB (Ticker: FBK) were up slightly to $37.38 Tuesday afternoon. They have risen 50 percent over the past six months, in line with what many other bank stocks have done.